Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Lording It Over Us

At just 25 years of age, Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor,  has become the 7th Duke of Westminster and will inherit a family fortune estimated by American business magazine Forbes at about £9 billion. He will be the third wealthiest landowner in the UK, and the 68th wealthiest person in the world. His 21st birthday party at Eaton Hall, the family’s ancestral seat, reportedly cost £5 million. Britains' wealthiest man gets rich the easy way -- he has his underlings collect and bank his rent. And if the rents from his vast land holdings weren’t enough, soaring property prices have escalated his net worth sky high

The origins of the Grosvenor family fortune date back more than 300 years when an ancestor of the new duke, Sir Thomas Grosvenor, married wealthy heiress Mary Davies, who had inherited a medieval manor in Middlesex and 500 acres of undeveloped land west of London. Part of that land, which forms part of the Grosvenor’s London estate, was built on by the family in the early 18th century and became known as Mayfair, named after the annual Mayday fair. A second big development by the family 100 years later became Belgravia, named after the village of Belgrave, near the family’s 13,000 acre country seat in Cheshire. Forget the vast tracts of rural land, including the  22,500-acre Abbeystead grouse moor in Lancashire and a 100,000-acre estate in Scotland which contains no less than three mountains. The 300 acres the duke owns in central London, comprising Mayfair and Belgravia, are today one of the most valuable patches of ground on the planet.

After that the family business expanded globally with overseas developments in the Americas, Australia, Asia and Europe. His commercial property company, Grosvenor, has become a serious player, with a vast array of investments and developments around the world. These include office blocks in San Francisco, business parks in Vancouver, luxury apartments in Hong Kong and shopping centres in Spain and Portugal. In the UK, Grosvenor has developed Festival Place shopping centre in Basingstoke and redeveloped the centre of Liverpool. 

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